1:00 pm ET, SEC Network/ESPN3
|Record||18-11 (9-9)||15-16 (9-9)|
|Head-to-Head||Georgia won 67-58 on 1/19|
Because there are so many teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble, the SEC Tournament doesn't really have a strong spoiler factor this year. It's especially so because these two outfits are playing each other with Florida waiting in the wings for the winner.
Both teams have already done damage to current and former March Madness hopefuls. LSU has wins over Missouri, Alabama, and Arkansas, while Georgia swept Tennessee and beat Kentucky. Both have singularly great players (and All-SEC first teamers) with Johnny O'Bryant III from LSU and SEC Player of the Year Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from Georgia. Both, unfortunately, didn't come within 17 points of Florida in the regular season.
So this is likely it for these teams. They may or may not get bids in the NIT or one of the third tier tournaments, so it's best for them to enjoy this while they can.
The pick: Georgia 70, LSU 63
3:30 pm ET, SEC Network/ESPN3
|Record||19-11 (11-7)||10-21 (4-14)|
|Head-to-Head||Tennessee won 72-57 on 1/19|
In the SEC Network interview after his team's big win, Rick Ray said he both wanted to win his game against Tennessee and also not hurt the NCAA Tournament hopes of his friend Cuonzo Martin. Given that Tennessee is still right on the edge of the Big Dance, those are mutually exclusive desires.
The Volunteers really shouldn't have a ton of trouble with this one if they play their defense. MSU used unusually good shooting to defeat South Carolina last night, and a team with only six scholarship players left is likely to have trouble against a well-rested squad on the second half of a back-to-back. This will be pretty close to a home game for the Vols, and they took care of business in Knoxville pretty handily already this season.
The pick: Tennessee 77, Mississippi State 58
7:30 pm ET, SEC Network/ESPN3
|Record||14-16 (8-10)||19-12 (10-8)|
|Head-to-Head||W 67-49 on 2/9||W 56-33 on 1/12|
This game is perhaps the biggest study in contrasts of style in the tournament with the high-scoring Hogs (73.7 PPG) taking on the low-scoring Commodores (60.0 PPG). You may notice, though, in those two prior head-to-head matchups that the Razorbacks were never able to run their point total up into the 70s. Sure, they held Vandy to an abhorrent 33 points back in January, but they topped out with those 56 points in the same game.
In both of those contests, Vandy was able to keep the pace down and only let Arkansas shoot nine fewer field goals than their season average. The key for the Commodores is pulling that off again and not getting caught up in a track meet. Well, that and also not uncorking another 33-point, 25%-shooting night.
For the Hogs, the trick will be actually playing well away from home. They lost all but one road or neutral site contest they played in, beating only Auburn outside of Fayetteville. MSU over South Carolina was nominally an upset, but I smell the first true upset in the SEC Tournament brewing here.
The pick: Vanderbilt 62, Arkansas 57
10:00 pm ET, SEC Network/ESPN3
|Record||18-14 (7-11)||22-9 (11-7)|
|Head-to-Head||Texas A&M won 70-68 on 2/7|
Last night, Texas A&M did what it came here to do by picking up a win. Getting another one here would be good news for its fading NIT hopes, and really, "just don't lose to Auburn" isn't that lofty of a goal anyway. This team still has plenty to play for.
Missouri does too, even if it is safely in the NCAA Tournament at this point. There's always seeding to jockey for, but it feels like the Tigers have lost whatever momentum they gained when they beat Florida on February 19. Since then they have defeated Arkansas, but they also lost to the best teams in that span in Kentucky and Tennessee. They can't seem to work things out in road contests, as the only true road games they've won have come against Mississippi State and South Carolina.
The good news is that they've been good in neutral site games, with wins over VCU and Illinois in such contests with only an understandable loss to Louisville. The arena won't be packed with Aggies tonight, so MU should find a way to pull this one out.
The pick: Missouri 73, Texas A&M 67